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The best places to celebrate Sankthans aften in Denmark

The Local Denmark
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The best places to celebrate Sankthans aften in Denmark
Sankt Hans Aften at Engen, Odense, in 2015. Photo: Sophia Juliane Lydolph / Ritzau Scanpix

Sankthans is one of the most enjoyable events in the Danish calendar, with happy crowds welcoming in the summer next to roaring bonfires. Here's our list of the best places to take part in the traditional midsummer celebration.

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A popular national tradition which can be traced back to paganism and has a bloodier history than many realize, today’s Sankthans Aften (St. John's Eve) takes its name from John the Baptist, who according to Christian tradition was born six months before Jesus.

READ ALSO: Denmark's Sankt Hans Aften explained: Witches and rain

In Denmark, the celebration usually includes a speech by a prominent local figure, the lighting of the bonfire and an atmospheric rendition in chorus of the song Midsommervisen.

Sankthans bonfires are usually quite easy to find on June 23rd, regardless of whether you may find yourself in a small town or a city.

Here is a – by no means exhaustive – list of SanktHans Aften events in Denmark’s two largest cities.

Copenhagen

Tivoli - The capital’s amusement park and gardens always has a bonfire by the lake, which is popular with people in Copenhagen and will also this year hold a series of Sankthans concerts on the main lawn

Frederiksberg Gardens – Take in the Sankthans bonfire on the lawns of the palace. There is a Sankthans event for children at the playground between 4.30pm and 6.30pm and entertainment on the lawn in front of the castle between 6.45pm and 11pm. The fire is lit at 9.45pm. 

Islands Brygge – This is a somewhat hipper Sankthaans next to Copenhagen Harbour, with a concert featuring Caribbean rhythms from Benii & Chango, and by the Indie rock quartet Kindsight, after which there's a fire on the Brygge. 

Reffen - The Sankthans celebrations at the Copenhagen street food market on the Refshaleøen peninsular are perhaps the trendiest option of all, with participants entertained by music from DJ Hej Leif from 2pm to 6pm, after which another DJ, Rasmus Schack, will take over until midnight. There's a children's bonfire lit at 7pm and one for grown-ups lit at 9.45pm  

Bakken – The fairground north of Copenhagen kicks things off with a kids’ event at 6pm.

Køge -- The Sankthans bonfire at Køge Marina is popular with its views across the Køge bay towards Copenhagen. 

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Aarhus

Tivoli Friheden – Aarhus’ fairground near the Marselis forest is one of the most popular places to celebrate with a speech by the city’s lord mayor Jacob Bundsgaard and live music from the Aarhus's funkiest and funnest big band, Luftens Helte.  

University Park – The rolling slopes and serene lakes of the Aarhus University campus make a great backdrop for the bonfire and chorus.

Valhalla Scouts in Brabrand -- The Valhalla Scouts in Brabrand hold a great Sankthans event for children, where you can bake stick bread on the fire, or try to win prizes in a fairground games like a 'fishing pond' or tombola. Read more here.

Langenæs Church – A longstanding and family-friendly event at the Langenæs church south of the city centre.

 

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